Each summer an entire class of Flinn Scholars engages in a group study-travel seminar. This year’s seminar, held in Hungary and western Romania, runs from late in May to mid-June. Here’s a day-by-day account.
Lily Luo (’11)
I’m woken up at 8 am by a rooster which is 1. quite late by our travel standards and 2. reminds me that we are with are homestays in Petreni. Excited for the day, I’m too enthusiastic with my glasses and break them, which gives me an interesting perspective (or rather, lack thereof) on the rest of the day.
After my delicious homemade breakfast made by Ildie, we attended a Unitarian Church sermon lead by Kinga. The sermon was in Hungarian, so we participated by humming along to the accordion and praying silently. Our own Julia King played a beautiful song called “If I Stand” on the guitar for the congregation. I could hear from her breaking voice that she was brimming with passion, faith, and love. It was quite a magical time and place where people of different faiths–or no faiths–and of different cultures stood together with reflective harmony.
For the next hour, Kinga chatted with the Flinns about a vast array of topics, from gendered difference in assuming leadership, about her worries for her campaign work (I’m sure it was successful, though I have no way of checking the results), about the EU and Romania. She shared her personal experience with the negative impact farming subsidies hard on Romanian agriculture, a point that caught in the web of our collective minds. We also brought the discussion home to the U.S. with border issues. Kinga gently poked fun at us; it is indeed very easy to criticize Europeans while ignoring the human rights issues in our own backyards.
With much food for thought in our minds, we turned to feeding our stomachs with more homemade dishes for lunch. I had the best vegetable soup in existence, followed by creamy mashed potatoes, cold rice with carrots and peas, fried breaded beef, grilled chicken, and sausage. This was topped off with an unworldly dessert: crepes filled with homemade jam, drizzled in vanilla pudding and chocolate shavings with half a peach. It tasted like heaven on earth.
It was then time to say goodbye to our wonderful hosts and Petreni village. As fun as it all was, nothing quite beats a great big nap following a great big lunch. I slept for almost the whole bus ride to Targu Mures, where we ate a dinner that was diametrically opposed to our wonderful cultural lunch: fried chicken, french fries, and pickles…a classic U.S. American meal, served in Hungary.
At night, we went off exploring the city for a bit, branching off into different groups. My group invaded a playground while Romanians observed our loud American-ness. Finally, we had some group bonding time, consisting of real talk, Whose Yo Daddy, What If, and other nonsense. All in all, a very satisfactory day.